Infrastructure Australia and Africa

Infrastructure for the SKA requires two consortia, each managing their respective local sites in Australia and Africa. INFRA-AU and INFRA-SA have the huge task of taking care of all SKA infrastructure on continent wide scales.

What do we mean when we refer to Infrastructure in the SKA design?
The “Infrastructure” (INFRA) element as stated covers both the Infrastructure in Africa and in Australia. It includes all work undertaken to deploy and be able to operate the SKA in both countries. Infrastructure includes roads, buildings, power generation and distribution, reticulation, vehicles, cranes and specialist equipment needed for maintenance that are not included in the supply of the other elements. Infrastructure does not include access rights to the land, environmental protection or monitoring. Infrastructure does not include protection from external sources of interference. Infrastructure includes the provision of any site wide safety systems necessary for personnel and equipment safety.

Main objectives of the INFRA consortia
Primary goals of INFRA teams will be to minimise the amount of infrastructure & power required for SKA1 by re-using existing infrastructure & power as far as possible (and expanding where necessary) and collaborate with each other to follow a common engineering approach, share knowledge & provide lessons learnt through design & delivery of SKA pathfinders.

INFRA consortia challenges
Due to the nature of this Work Package, INFRA covers a wide range of activities and the INFRA Consortia will be eventually responsible for the design of a number of elements such as (non-exhaustive list): power, antenna foundations, routing and articulation, access to the site, water and sanitation, buildings, communications, vehicles; as well as in Africa for the dishes, the construction of a prototype antenna foundation.

More about the individual consortia



SKA Australia site

Aerial view of the ASKAP telescope, precursor to the SKA, and the construction activities going on at the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO) site. Credit: CSIRO

Infrastructure Australia (INFRA-AU) is fundamental in supporting the other consortia as they endeavour to design and cost the SKA. INFRA-AU is in charge of designing and costing critical infrastructure, such as providing power to the site, costing telescope foundations, providing access to the telescopes themselves, and designing housing for the supercomputing facility. Other important areas INFRA-AU will be in charge of include the design of site-monitoring equipment (for weather and radio frequency interference), providing designs to implement water and sanitation to and on the site, vehicles for the construction and operations phase, and communications both on and to off site.


Construction activity at the Murchison Radio Observatory (MRO) site in Australia

Optical fibres being deployed at the SKA Australia site. Credit: CSIRO

INFRA AU Consortium
The INFRA-AU team, led by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), working closely with Aurecon, have prepared a technically excellent team. The Australian members of the consortium have a strong track record of working closely together on SKA-related projects. Established relationships exist between key members, giving the consortium the ability to immediately begin productive work on the work package.

Having designed the ASKAP and MRO infrastructure on the Boolardy site, supervised the MRO infrastructure construction contract and worked on both sets of SKA bid documentation in 2005 and 2011, the INFRA-AU consortium understands how to ensure the design and delivery of infrastructure for SKA is effective and efficient.

Entrance to the radio quiet Murchison Radio Observatory

Entrance to the radio quiet Murchison Radio Observatory site. Credit: CSIRO

From their history on the project, they fully comprehend the ultimate aims and importance of the infrastructure for SKA. With a detailed knowledge of the site and existing infrastructure, along with a clear understanding of the practicalities and complexities of working at the remote site in the Shire of Murchison. And with combined experience, the INFRA-AU Consortium also brings unmatched local knowledge in relation to the construction workforce profile, logistics, seasonal weather constraints and the cost and sourcing of materials and labour. In addition, this team have the required links with government departments to ensure that the other land acquisition processes are well integrated with the pre-construction design work.



As for Australia the task facing the INFRA-SA team is huge.

Panoramic view of the construction activities at the SKA South Africa site

Panoramic view of the construction activities at the SKA South Africa site (C) SKA SA

INFRA SA is fundamental in supporting the other consortia as they endeavour to design and cost the SKA. The INFRA SA Consortium will manage the successful delivery of the Stage 1 and Stage 2 infrastructure and power element design in South Africa on behalf of the international SKA Office. This includes the infrastructure power, routing, reticulation, access, water and sanitation, buildings, antenna foundations, site monitoring equipment (SKA1), as well as vehicles and communications on site.


MeerKAT antenna foundations

MeerKAT antenna foundations (C) SKA SA


RFI Shielding of the Karoo Array Processor Building

RFI Shielding of the Karoo Array Processor Building (C) SKA SA

The INFRA SA Consortium
The INFRA SA Consortium is led and managed by the SKA SA Infrastructure team. This small team has been working on the provision of infrastructure for KAT 7 and MeerKAT since 2007.

For the KAT 7 phase of the project, the SKA SA team completed the acquisition of the land, the design of the infrastructure for KAT 7 and the construction of infrastructure.

The SKA SA infrastructure team, with the assistance of South African Consulting Engineers, also completed the design, environmental impact assessment and various site characterisation studies for the MeerKAT infrastructure early in 2012. Construction is underway on site and is expected to be completed by the end of 2013.







INFRA-AU Consortium will work with the following organisations:

Contact information of individuals involved in the INFRA AU consortium can be provided by the INFRA AU Consortium lead Antony Schinckel.

As INFRA-SA is primarily just the SKA SA office, contact information of individuals involved in the INFRA SA consortium can be provided by the Consortium lead Tracy Cheetham.

Click on the map below to get more information on the organisations involved in the infrastructure consortia. Select Africa/Australia or both to see the relevant people involved

SKA Global Consortia